Things I have done lately

September 10, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in knitting, life | 2 Comments
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1. Finished the first sock of a pair of Red Herring socks for Heather.
Socks were started in, oh, April. I got mad at this one and had to put it down for several months, but I finished the bugger and started on sock 2.

2. Had my first ceramics class. It was possibly the most fun and liberatingly, unrestrictedly (word?) creative time I’ve had in a while.

3. Saw Across the Universe late last night as part of the Toronto International Film Festival. I am a sucker for twisted, vibrantly melancholy and/or macabre films, and if they are musicals I am sent into paroxysms of delight. It’s like Moulin Rouge, except happier. It’ll be interesting to hear other people’s impressions of how the Beatles’ songs were interpreted. I especially liked ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Strawberry Fields.’

4. Work. Lots of work.


War, an apt metaphor for dating. Or is it, Dating, an apt metaphor for war?

August 18, 2007 at 7:37 pm | Posted in boys, life | 6 Comments
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So, I don’t know who really reads this blog, other than some of my friends and some of my classmates and coworkers. But if you’ve met me for even a second, you’ve probably heard me say at least one of the following:
“Dating is a nightmare.”
“I hate men.”
“I’m never dating anyone ever again. Ever ever ever.”
“Dating is like walking through a minefield — you never know if your next step is going to blow you up or land you on solid ground.”
“I give up.”

It’s no longer necessary or expected for women to marry straight out of high school, or even college/university, thank God. I can’t even imagine being married right now, let alone married to some dude I met when I was 16 or 20. I am not on the marriage/babies track; I don’t know if I want kids. The biological clock isn’t ticking, that’s for sure. But still, I feel that companionship is extremely important. One of my goals in life is to have a lasting emotional, sexual, intimate relationship with a man. Preferably a decent, unmarried man. And so, I find myself at 26, looking for a partner. (I’ve always hated that word, “partner,” when used to describe heterosexual relationships. Just say, boyfriend, or girlfriend, ok? But now I kind of think that it’s appropriate — I’m not looking for a sugar daddy or a baby daddy or any kind of daddy (I already have a father, thanks!), and “partner” has the connotation of equality and companionship, two things I value highly.) So, for the past four years, since the end of my “college marriage” relationship, I’ve been out there.

I love hearing stories from the dating front. One of my coworkers has the most incredible and unbelievable catalogue of first date nightmares. Consider these: a woman so close to lesbianism that she was practically her own pride flag, a Buffy-obsessed lawyer whose entire apartment was decorated like the fictional character’s condo, a pre-op male-to-female, and a woman on a day-pass from a mental institution. As he put it, “I put on the dating magnet and attract all of the cheap metal in the GTA.”

My friends and I have our own, less shocking but probably exponentially more dramatic, catalogue of dating history. Between us we’ve heard every opening and closing line in the book…we’ve had one night stands and long-term relationships and everything in between…we’ve slept with ex-boyfriends and -girlfriends…we’ve dated and re-dated and tried so hard to jam square pegs into round holes (so to speak)…we’ve obsessed and neurotically picked apart every single syllable uttered by a man — or a woman…

Sometimes I find it pretty amazing that anyone, anywhere has managed to meet someone else. Consider all of the things that have to come together for that to happen: both people have to be in the same place at the same time, be mutually attracted to each other, live in the same geographic region at the very least, be single at the same time, and not be irreparably damaged. And that’s just for them to decide to go on a date! Imagine the things that have to happen for a relationship to develop… As I said, amazing.

I’m just not sure I can do it all right now. I’ve been dating pretty much constantly for FOUR YEARS. That is, like, the world’s longest marathon. I’ve barely had time to breathe. Wait. Does that make me sound like a whore? Oh, whatever, I don’t care. Point is, I’ve been busy these past four years and all I have to show for it are notches on the bedpost and a growing list of shit I won’t tolerate from men. I’m tired. I need a break.

Tripping down memory lane

August 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Posted in life | 4 Comments
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There are several people that I keep in touch with from undergrad — Aundra is one of my closest friends in the world, and I love her to pieces.  Javad is someone I will always be friends with, no matter how far apart we are (China, Macau, Toronto, Miami; to name a few of the places we’re living in/have lived in).  I’ll be attending Kristen and Drake’s wedding next summer.  I met Ninon on our trip to Scotland, and I credit her with saving my life the summer after I graduated.  She and her mom gave me a place to live, and hers was the shoulder I cried on when Vito and I broke up.  We haven’t seen each other in years, but thanks to gmail chat we’re sometimes able to catch up.

We were chatting today, about people we have in common, and I had this enormous pang of missing Portland and Lewis & Clark.  LC is this small liberal arts college, smaller than my high school, perched on Palatine Hill in southwest Portland.  The campus is gorgeous — a wooded ravine, old brick buildings, a perfect view of Mt. Hood from the reflecting pool.  My freshman year was mainly a whirlwind of drunken nights in the dorms and nighttime missions to the indoor swimming pool and the football field to haul leftover Astro turf back to Copeland Hall.

I have this one memory of wandering down one night to the flagpole on the lawn that overlooked the rose garden, where you could see Mt. Hood and catch a glimpse of the city.  I don’t know who I was with, maybe Vito, and I think Brad was there too.  I put one foot into the loop of the rope and hoisted myself up; the boys ran with me until I was virtually flying around the flagpole.  I could see the lights of the city and the stars and I was drunk and happy and I cannot even imagine being that person again.  Not that I can’t imagine being happy again, but that I can’t imagine being 18 years old again and throwing my head back joyously as I swing around and around a flagpole in the dark.  I can’t imagine dorm life.  I can’t imagine caravaning down I-5 to spend spring break in Mexico.  I can’t imagine the keg parties and dorm parties and celebrating 21st birthdays.  I can’t imagine walking home from the “rat house” in the fog and rain… I can’t imagine an entire life that I once had.  Sometimes I miss college and Portland so much that it physically hurts, in my chest.  I will not attend my high school reunions but I can’t imagine missing my college ones.

I love Toronto, I love my apartment and my friends here and I enjoy my job.  I’m an adult here (well, except for my amazingly incompetent dating history).  Still, I think about Portland a lot.  It’s like a love affair that I never really got over.  Isn’t that so rainy-day melancholy?  That no matter how much you like who you are and where you are, you can miss the people and places from your past so much?

Sweatin’ in the summer sun

June 26, 2007 at 9:24 pm | Posted in life | 1 Comment

My third floor, un-air conditioned attic apartment was sweltering by 9 am. Even though I had a while before I had to be at work, I left early to take advantage of the air conditioning there. That’s pretty much unheard of.

Summer’s one of those funny seasons for me. There are things that I love about it, including the clothing, or lack thereof; sometimes it’s nice to leave the house wearing only a single layer. I like summer activities: swimming, hiking, camping, biking. Summer songs are pretty much awesome and hilarious and it seems like every band has at least one (off the top of my head: basically anything by the Beach Boys; Summersong by the Decemberists; that one by Sheryl Crow…ya know, the one that goes something like, “Put my 45 on so I can rock on,” though why she needs sunscreen for that is beyond me).

But oh God, I was born and raised in Miami. I have a lifetime of summers stored up. I’m not hurting for summers. Springs, falls, winters: those are the seasons I’m lacking. But spring is over and fall is yet to come, and it’s bittersweet anyway, cause that means winter’s on its way and while I don’t mind winter I haven’t come to love it, and so right now there’s summer.

I love summers in un-summery places — people seem to alternately revel and wilt in them. I remember in college in Portland when, after a long, rainy winter, the sun would finally come out and even though it would be 60 degrees, max, girls around campus would try not to shiver in skirts and halter tops. We’d be out in bikinis and playing frisbee and soccer in March, our pasty skin barely warming in the still-chilly air. It seemed so obscene to me at the time, to see so much skin after so long. I’d have forgotten that my classmates had bodies under their polar fleece and Gore-Tex and when they revealed their arms and legs and cleavage I almost had to look away.

The summer of 2002, between my junior and senior years of undergrad, I worked on my college’s paint crew with my boyfriend, with whom I also shared an apartment. We were up at 6:30, at work at 7:30, and done at 3:30. I worked on the indoor crew, repainting the scuffed walls of the dorms. Even in shorts and a t-shirt, with the windows wide open to let in whatever (stiflingly hot) breeze there was, we’d be sweating like pigs by 10 am. There were days when it was too hot for the boys on the outdoor crew to paint. In the evenings, Vito and I would return home to our humid apartment, where mold grew year-round. Complaining about the weather was practically a regional past-time.

Still, that was one of my favorite summers. I was off to Scotland in the fall, and the last two weeks before I left were wonderful — a week in San Diego, in a rented beach apartment with Vito and his mom, boogie-boarding in the cool ocean and baking in the heat; three days in Lake Tahoe with Vito and Aundra, catching crawdads and swimming in the lake; a couple nights at Crater Lake with the same two, when the forest fire smoke cleared for a single day, the day we were there, and we took the boat to Wizard Island.

Summer here is gardens and cottages and days off work and smog and fans and bikes, from what I can tell. I already have a tan line from my watch, various tan lines from various tank tops, a tan line from my Birks. I’m not one of those careful girls who pulls the straps of her tank top or bikini down to get an even tan, or slathers on sunscreen at the first sign of summer sun. Hell, I don’t even try to tan, it just happens.

With my oscillating fan, endless bottles of white wine and maybe even refrigerated red wine (blasphemy) for those lightly alcoholic weeks, shorts and tank tops and sandals and skirts, a wet sarong draped over my body at night so I can sleep, a bike to get around town quickly, summer will pass.

The cult of happiness

June 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm | Posted in life, things that annoy | 3 Comments

I was indulging in my favorite Saturday morning ritual — eating breakfast, drinking tea, and reading the newspaper which, come to think of it, is actually an everyday ritual but I suppose it’s made a little sweeter on Saturday by the fact that I don’t have to go to work — and I came across this piece on happiness in the Globe and Mail. It’s written by Leah McLaren, who’s generally not one of my favorite G&M writers, though I have to say that I find her grumpiness a little charming at times.

Anyway, McLaren points out that we are living in a time when happiness is a hot commodity — there are dozens upon dozens of self-help books devoted to the pursuit of happiness, and we are constantly being urged to take up yoga or journalling or meditation, activities that are apparently guaranteed to at least point us in the direction of our elusive goal — and then calls bullshit on it.

About fucking time, and thank fucking God.

No amount of pop psychology or gratitude journalling is going to change the fact that the president of my country has engaged young men and women and civilians from all over the world, but particularly those from Afghanistan and Iraq, in an endless, morally bankrupt war.

No amount of yoga or motivational speaking is going to change the fact that our actions and practices are causing global warming.

No amount of smiley faces is going to change the fact that children are being abused, women are being raped, and men are being tortured, all over the world, in every community and every country, often for nothing more than being gay or female or black or whatever.

In short, the world is a fucked up place, even in relatively decent North America, and I refuse to mask my anger and frustration and sorrow over all of the screwed up things that happen with a smile and a gratitude journal. (As McLaren writes, “While positive psychology points to rising levels of depression as a legitimate problem in our society (Prof. Ben-Shahar warns of a great “emotional bankruptcy”), its solutions are inward-looking and facile. Imagine, for a moment, where we’d be if Martin Luther King Jr. had decided to purge his negative emotions by keeping a gratitude journal?”)


That’s not to say that I don’t experience happiness and contentment, often on a daily basis. I’m gainfully employed and I like my job and the people I work with. I have a comfortable apartment to come home to every evening. I live in a vibrant, healthy city. I have a group of awesome friends who make me laugh harder than I ever thought possible. I have a small container garden and the simple, lovely joy of watching plants grow makes my mornings and evenings a treat. I have a family who loves me. I have a bike and a camera. I know how to make things and I do, often. I read tons of books. My life is pretty much awesome.

Pessimist? Yes. Realist? Yes. Depressed? Yup. Cynical and sarcastic? Sure. Unapologetically pissed off about the state of the world at large? Abso-fucking-lutely.

In love with my life, as it stands, at this very moment? You better believe it.

Thank you, Leah McLaren, for reminding us that one does not need to be either happy or unhappy, positive or negative; that rose-colored glasses don’t change the fact that the world is fucked up; that pessimism and happiness are not mutually exclusive.

Perfect day

June 10, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Posted in life | 1 Comment

I love weekends, particularly Saturday mornings. I’m usually not hungover cause I don’t really like going out on Fridays. I’m tired from work or school or whatever, and I just want to chill and relax and watch tv and knit, which is exactly what I did this Friday. I love waking up on Saturday morning, all refreshed and happy, and having the whole weekend ahead of me.

The Globe and Mail weekend edition comes out on Saturday, so I can hang out with a cup of coffee or three and read all of the foofy shit I don’t get to read during the week — the Style section in particular is perfect Saturday/Sunday morning reading. Do you care about capris? No? Are you sure? That section has a way of making me feel like I do, actually, give a shit about the in length of pants this season. Love it.

And then there’s the food. Yesterday I made chocolate chip banana pancakes with fresh strawberries sliced on top and maple syrup. (We’re going to overlook the fact that I think that my syrup has mold in it.) I’m making potato hash with dill and goat cheese today, and I’m cooking the potatoes and listening to the Talking Heads as I write this.

I love these slow moments, when I can cook leisurely and listen to music and enjoy a beverage (dinner cooking = wine or beer, breakfast cooking = coffee or tea), and I’m not pressed for time at all. Pretty sure that these are the moments that make for a contented life — cooking something from scratch, singing loudly and poorly all the while; or laughing with a friend over something inane; or taking a long walk for no real reason; or settling in with a good book and a glass of wine. The mediterranean lifestyle has always appealed to me — they seem to understand that life doesn’t always have to be fast and frenetic to be happy and productive; in fact, it’s probably the opposite.

One thing that I hate about the United States is that there’s no room for leisure. Americans are among the hardest-working people in the world and our productivity is mainly for naught. Or, I suppose, not for naught, because our efforts are destroying cultures and ecosystems all over the world. But when it comes to contentment and fulfillment, I wouldn’t say that Americans are the forerunners worldwide. How could we be? We’re too busy buying bigger better televisions and houses and cars to actually enjoy the small moments of life that actually matter.

Speaking of which, my hash is ready and there are at least two sections of the paper that I haven’t read yet.

Music appreciation

May 27, 2007 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Friends, life | 2 Comments

I was walking down the street today with a giant (cloth) bag of groceries, listening to my iPod and thinking about my favorite subject, me, when I was struck by the realization that the vast, vast majority of the music I listen to was recommended to me by other people. You know how there are some people who are always on top of new trends in some area of pop culture, whether it’s music or art or movies or fashion? Well, I am so not one of those people. I observe, sit back, watch others, and gather information that way. Hell if I’m going to sift through a dozen shitty CDs before hitting gold, and I’m certainly not going to see a single movie, indie or otherwise, before reading some reviews. I just don’t want to waste my time. (Oh. But. I guess I do sort of read a shitload of books, mostly without reading reviews or going on friends’ recommendations. Good thing books aren’t really that cool, or this would be me, once again, sitting in a glass house throwing stones.)

Anyway, I was listening to this one song and thinking about how much I like it and then realized that I’d never have even heard of it or the artist if someone hadn’t turned me onto it in the first place. I feel like my relationships — familial, platonic, and romantic — can be traced in my music collection. You can see my parents in the Beach Boys and the Beatles and Queen and Billy Joel (shut up) and the miniscule appreciation I have for classical music (sorry dad, opera didn’t make the cut). Eric gave me Rilo Kiley; Austin gave me Elliott Smith and Wilco (who’s now haunting me on my iPod so I’m not entirely sure how grateful I am for that gift); Domingo gave me the Postal Service and the Shins and Iron & Wine; Nalini gave me Cat Power. From my tenure at Books & Books I learned that I love Nick Drake and Bill Cruz and Eva Cassidy; I learned that I hate hate hate Nestor Torres and Buena Vista Social Club. Chris recommends so many bands that I can’t keep track of them all; the couple that I can remember are Rogue Wave (“Falcon Settles Me” is just so pretty) and Band of Horses. With Heather’s help I’m trying to shed my “musical misogyny” through Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse and a couple of golden oldies. In performing this little exercise, in trying to trace the origins of my current music collection, I’m left with very few bands or singer-songwriters I can claim as my own.

It’s funny that there’s this thing that’s so personal and so revealing — musical taste — and yet it’s formed by basically everyone else in my life but me. I wonder how common this experience is: are most of us a composition of other people’s tastes and influences?

I hate change.

May 20, 2007 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Friends, life | 2 Comments

This has been such a bittersweet weekend: on the one hand, Alli’s finally back from Asia; on the other, Lorien left for Yellowknife today for three months. That in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad, if I knew where I was going to be when she gets back. I could still be here, in Toronto, or I could be God knows where. Also, Alli and I said goodbye to Stephanie on Friday, who’s moving back to Minnesota. I know that things will work out for her, but I’m going to miss her a lot.

I organized a barbecue for Lorien’s last night, so yesterday evening a bunch of us gathered at the place where Dave was housesitting. It was amazing. The garden there is gorgeous, so we bought a bunch of food to barbecue, and we set up a table outside. The weather was lovely — during the day it was warm and sunny, and in the evening, cool and breezy. A bunch of people from Lorien’s program came, plus some of my friends. Dave set out a cheese spread, which was delicious, and the wine was flowing freely. We gorged ourselves on cheeses and crackers and dips…but somehow managed to have room for grilled chicken and burgers and steaks and hot dogs.

At one point, I was sitting on a bench at the far end of the garden, watching everyone talking and laughing and I was struck by how much I love my friends. I always have been a big friends person; when I become close with someone they know me better than my family knows me. Moving away is difficult because of those bonds — the night before I left Portland for Miami, the night after my going-away part/berry cordial bash, I cried on Paula’s futon while Eric laughed at me/comforted me. Saying goodbye to Aundra and Vito and Gavin, after graduating from college, was so hard. I remember standing in my empty apartment, the one that Vito, Gavin, and I shared, and my family had just left to return home from visiting for graduation, and being so overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness that I’m surprised I was able to leave that day.

Of course, all of those times, things have worked out — I’ve made new friends. Unfortunately, I’m not really still friends with everyone from Portland and that sometimes bothers me, but for the most part, I’m happy for who I have in my life. Not all friendships are built to last. Sometimes it takes distancing yourself from people to realize that you didn’t have that much in common in the first place. Some friendships are so important, however, that living across the country from someone isn’t enough to break the bond.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is just to point out that things are changing and that I’m not entirely comfortable with those changes. While I know intellectually that things will work out and everything will be alright, it’s hard to see that from where I’m standing now.

Musings upon a weekend

May 12, 2007 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Friends, life | 1 Comment

Things that are great about the weekend:
1. Banana chocolate chip pancakes made from scratch (3 consumed)
2. Adorable linen jackets (1 purchased, 1 on hold at another location)
3. New sunglasses (1 pair purchased)
4. Documentaries (2 watched: From Heroin to Methadonia, Manufactured Landscapes)

Things that are not great about the weekend:
1. Most of my friends being MIA (Confidential to China, Germany, and California: I hate you.)

Don’t bother to read this. I’m just rambling.

April 12, 2007 at 9:45 pm | Posted in life | Leave a comment

Ok, so sometimes I actually have a lot of things that I want to write about, but I’m not sure if I should cause they’re not funny or even amusing. They might not even be interesting. But I guess they’re what I’ve been consumed with lately, and it helps me to figure things out by writing them down.

I am done with graduate school on Tuesday of next week. Two years ago, when I was applying for this program — actually, by this point I think I’d been accepted and was deciding to go or not — I had one of those flippant sort of I-don’t-want-to-analyze-this-any-more thoughts, and brushed aside any doubts that I had about library school or archives and told myself, By the time you’re done with the program, you’ll have figured it out. Surely, a job will have presented itself/you’ll have met someone and the decision about where to live will be made for you/you’ll be dead and none of it will matter anyway. Well, short of me getting hit by a bus between now and Tuesday, none of those things have come to pass. I don’t have a full-time job lined up; I haven’t been drawn to one specific locale by a person or a position.

What am I going to do now? That’s a question I ask myself every day, every hour, every minute. My entire waking life is consumed with that question and its colleagues: what am I going to do now? where am I going to live? what will my future be? I’m not Canadian; without a study permit extension I can’t stay here past the first of August. I hate Miami, my hometown, and I don’t want to live there again. I’m in this limbo, the limbo of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the fucking terrifying, and I don’t like it one bit. I’ve lived in Miami, Portland, Miami again, and now Toronto, and each time I’ve moved, it’s been scary. Each time, I’ve survived, I’ve learned things about myself and my habits, I’ve gone through the process of making new friends and learning new driving/public transit routes, I’ve learned a new vocabulary: how to pronounce “Spadina” and “Dundas” and nicknames like “T-dot” and “PDX.” I’ve learned that you can’t go home again because your parents moved and you no longer have a bedroom. I’ve learned that no matter where you go, you’ll always be a product of your upbringing and your hometown. But what has this education been for? Why do I keep doing this to myself? These have been my choices; no one forced me to go all the way across the country for college, though I wouldn’t say that my parents discouraged it. No one suggested that I move to Canada for grad school. I find it hilarious that it’s me who makes these choices. I don’t consider myself a brave person. I am not a gregarious extrovert who makes friends easily, and I’ve been known to walk miles in order to have to avoid looking like an idiot on an unfamiliar bus route. And still, I choose these unfamiliar cities, places where I know no one, in spite of this almost unspeakable urge to put down roots and get a cat.

So, what the fuck am I doing? I have no idea.

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